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[PyrNet-L] HEALTH: Cost of Chemotherapy

Clondike is an 11 year and 5 month old Pyr who was diagnosed with lymphoma
in May of 1998.  While doing my 98 taxes I calculated the costs of her
cancer treatments so far.  I have broken it down into costs of the 1st
remission which lasted 4 months, ending in early Dec. of 1998, and costs
of re-inducing and maintaining her 2nd remission (6 weeks and counting).

While I have broken the expenses down among the different types of vets
and the health food store, I don't have exact breakdowns as to cost of
chemo agents vs. supportive care.

First Remission:

Oncologist-		2898.00
General practice vet-	3021.85
Holistic vets-		 830.97
Cardiologist-		 580.00
Health food store-	 173.71

	Subtotal	7504.53

Second Remission:

Oncologist-		 994.00
General practice vet-	 899.40
Holistic vet-		 493.04
Health food store-	 301.82

	Subtotal	2688.26

TOTAL to date	       10192.79

This may re-ignite discussion of what is a "reasonable" amount to invest
in caring for a dog, but we feel Clondike was an excellent candidate for
chemotherapy and we are just glad we had the resources in time and money
to give her some more opportunities to sniff some sniffs, threaten the
mailman, and go to (and show at) a National Specialty.

To put this in perspective, about half of Clondike's food requirements are
included in the above expenses, and she incurred almost $4000 in vet bills
in the year prior to diagnosis due to infections resulting from a
compromised immune system.  It is open to question whether the weakened
immune system lead to the cancer, or was a symptom of a pre-cancerous
condition.  None of the vets has offered more than a guess on this issue.

Much of the cost of Clondike's treatment has been supportive care because
she has proven so sensitive to the chemo agents.  The oncologist estimated
$1500 for the 1st remission and this may be adequate for the vast majority
of dogs.

If faced with a diagnosis of lymphoma and a limited budget, discuss
options with your vet and/or oncologist.  Most of the chemo agents used in
the basic protocols are now available in generic form and SOME type of
chemo should be within the realm of possibility for many owners.

OTOH, the decision to treat is not one to make lightly, and in many cases
lymphoma is diagnosed too late for treatment to have a very high chance of
success.  The bottom line is that each case is different and has to be
evaluated individually.

Clondike has had some bad days, but for now she is in full remission and
seems to be enjoying life to the fullest.  Our general practice vet
checked her out on Thursday and found her pulse and gum color better than
2 weeks before--so the trip to the National in Chicago seems to have
agreed with her (we're still exhausted).

If anyone has questions, just let me know and I'll try to answer them.

 David Kintsfather              | PHONE:       (610) 683-4497
 Dept. of Telecommunications    | FAX:         (610) 683-4659
 Kutztown University            | INTERNET:    kintsfat@kutztown.edu
 PO Box 730                     |   "We need not think alike to love alike."
 Kutztown, PA  19530-0730       |                Francis David